NBA Finals 2012: Will the Miami Heat and Their Big 3 Strategy Prevail?
If you love The Heatles, their 100-96 reversal of fortune in Game 2 was sweet revenge. If you don’t, their 105-94 opening loss in OKC was the answer to your prayers. And nothing would be more satisfying than having the Thunder close out the series in American Airlines Arena.
From "The Decision" and LeBron’s seven-championship smack to their flameout against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 Finals, the talents of the Big Three have been exceeded only by their shortcomings. Real or imagined, their failed arrogance has them wearing the black hats in this year’s ultimate NBA matchup.
In their defense, Miami fans might ask, “How is pairing James and Bosh with Dwyane Wade any different than what the Boston Celtics did to win the title in 2008?” After all, trading for Garnett and Allen to team up with Paul Pierce stacked the deck in the same fashion as signing James and Bosh as free agents.
From 1958 to 1968, the Lakers repeatedly lost the NBA Finals to the Celtics. Approaching the ’68-’69 season, Los Angeles already had Jerry West and Elgin Baylor on the roster—two of the top five players in the league—but they were not enough.
After the team fell to Boston for the sixth time, owner Jack Kent Cooke pulled off the biggest trade in the two-decade history of the league. Wilt Chamberlain would come over from Philadelphia to be the low-post answer to Bill Russell.
Chamberlain was already the NBA’s all-time leading scorer and rebounder. Based on their statistics and impact on the court, West and Baylor could be looked upon as the Wade and James of their day. Combine their talents with “The Big Dipper” and how could they lose?
Sports Illustrated reiterated the same thing just before the season started. “Competitively, Cooke's buying habits have produced a most unhealthy situation in the NBA…But he will have his championship.” Does this sound familiar at all, King James?
Fast-forward to Game 7 of the 1969 NBA Finals against Boston. Although the Lakers had won their division and breezed through the first two rounds of the playoffs, they were playing the Celtics after all. However, the L.A. Forum was the venue for this showdown and thought to favor the home team.
With the bravado reminiscent of LeBron’s seven-title boast, Cooke ordered the rafters loaded with celebratory balloons before the game. This was all the motivation Russell needed for his squad. The balloons stayed put as Boston won 108-106.
Before the ’71-‘72 campaign, Baylor’s coming retirement was well known. He played only nine games before calling it a career. So without the best small forward the NBA had seen to that point, how did their season turn out?
They had a still unbroken 33-game winning streak, finished with the second-best single-season record of all time at 69-13 and won the first NBA title for the Lakers since the franchise departed Minneapolis.
When the Heat were down 3-2 to the Celtics, talk was rampant that Wade simply could not coexist with LeBron. Trade him, get some complementary players to help James and see this franchise thrive as never before.
But Miami persevered and still has a chance to make the haters eat their words. If a second Larry O’Brien Trophy ends up in their showcase, then the Big Three strategy will be vindicated.
If King James and his court come up short, then GM Pat Riley may have to find a new address for D-Wade. As a contributing member of that breakthrough Lakers team, he should be quite familiar with the benefits of addition by subtraction.
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